A Madison-based diagnostic medicine company called NeuroPointDX has a new blood test for autism spectrum disorder.
The test can identify about 30 percent of children with ASD, according to the company.
Individuals with the developmental disorder are normally identified through impairments to social interaction and communication, as well as repetitive behavior, difficulty with change and altered reactivity to sensory input.
But CEO Elizabeth Donley says a behavioral diagnosis isn’t good enough, because earlier diagnosis can lead to better outcomes for the child. The test can find ASD in children 18 months and older, and she says optimum treatment begins before age 3.
“The results provide a biological basis for further evaluation by a neurodevelopmental specialist,” she said. “In conjunction with advice from a physician, they may point to a treatment strategy for some children.”
The test can be ordered through a doctor, and also includes precise information which can guide treatment. It was developed with data from the Children’s Autism Metabolome Project, a clinical trial which had over 1,100 subjects who were 18 to 48 months old.
Donley was a co-author of an academic paper published in the journal Biological Psychiatry that focused on the results of that trial.
People with ASD present diverse symptoms, which researchers say stem from various genetic, metabolic and environmental factors.
“Unfortunately, there is currently no reliable biomarker that can be used to identify children at risk for ASD,” authors wrote. “Because of the genetic complexity of ASD, there is currently no clinically meaningful genotyping carried out to detect ASD.”
NeuroPointDX is a part of Stemina Biomarker Discovery, a research institute also based in Madison. Stemina’s work includes creating human cellular models, which are used to find new drug candidates and screen for toxicity in cosmetics and other products.
Bob Burrier, NeuroPointDX COO and vice president of research and development, says the biomarkers identified “will serve as targets for new therapies ranging from pharmaceuticals to dietary supplements.”
Burrier says NeuroPointDX continues to use data from the CAMP study, to find more metabolic subtypes for children with ASD.
According to the release, the company is planning to bring a second test panel to market sometime next year.
Read the open access journal article here: http://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(18)31793-1/fulltext
–By Alex Moe